Extended family meals

Extended family meals

  • Older Italians prefer to be addressed in the polite form, using titles such as Mr/Signor and Mrs/Signora.
  • Physical contact such as touching on the arm or back, kissing on both cheeks and hugging is common place and normal amongst many Italians both males and females.
  • Older Italians love to celebrate significant days in the Italian cultural and religious calendar with the extended family, including Name Days (feast day of a saint who an individual is named after).
  • Italian women in general take enormous pride in a clean and sparkling home.
  • Italians usually demonstrate some form of respect upon entering the homes of friends.
  • Italians will generally ask other Italians what region of Italy they come from.
  • Favoured pastimes are card games, bocce, bingo (tombola), listening to Italian music and radio programs, dancing and TV. Morning and afternoon coffee breaks with neighbours and friends are also enjoyed.
  • Many older Italians enjoy gardening (especially growing vegetables), nature and talking about food, family, politics and sport.
  • Italians love to share a laugh and a joke so that things are not so serious.

When addressing older Italians it is conventional to use titles, especially upon first meeting. It is commonplace to greet a stranger in the following way: “Good morning Signora (female) or Signore (male) how are you?”.

Italians love to socialise and generally prefer not to be alone. They will meet friends for afternoon and morning coffee (Espresso style) and will always prefer to eat a meal with family.

Women’s social group

If a stranger is Italian they will be asked what region of Italy they are from to establish some form of connection and cultural acknowledgement.

Service providers may be asked what appear to be personal and confidential questions like where do you live, are you married or do you have kids. These questions are also intended to establish a social connection with the person.

There are many significant days in Italian culture. These include Christmas Eve (which traditionally carries more importance than Christmas Day), Christmas day, Good Friday, Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday (which is usually celebrated out in the open), New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, the Epiphany, individual birthdays, name/saints’ days, regional saints’ days, mothers’ and fathers’ day.

All significant days are celebrated with the family, often including cousins, aunts and uncles. The many religious days celebrated during the year will be discussed in more detail in the section on Religion.

Two other important days in the Italian cultural calendar are Italian National Day celebrating the unification of Italy on June 3rd and Ferragosto on August 15th at the height of the Italian summer, celebrating the Assumption of Mary.

The feast days, especially saints’ days, particularly in summer, are celebrated with large scale town and village festivals where the whole community gathers to eat, sing and dance together over a series of many evenings. Families will celebrate by cooking special meals and exchanging gifts.